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The fact: Garrett Jones hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Scott Feldman and added an RBI single in a three-run fifth inning to lead the Marlins to a 7-2 win over the Astros on Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: The Astros bullpen should be improved, as we expected considering the additions they made. RHPs Josh Zeid, Matt Albers and Chad Qualls each pitched in relief and were impressive. Zeid went two innings and allowed two hits and one run while striking out four, Albers threw a scoreless inning and Qualls allowed a run in the ninth. Still, they appeared more in control and polished than earlier in the spring.
“Albers threw the ball really well,” manager Bo Porter said. “He had some late life to his fastball. His sinker looked like it was really sinking today and he threw a couple of really good sliders. … Zeid was tremendous today. He had that one outing where he really got away from his fastball and establishing his fastballs, but he’s gotten back to attacking the strike zone with his fastball and his split-finger and slider have come along as well.”
What else: RHP Scott Feldman retired 13 of the 14 batters after Garrett Jones took him deep to right field in the first inning, but he labored in the fifth as the Astros made a pair of errors behind him. All three runs the Marlins scored in the fifth came after the first two batters were retired. He threw 88 pitches in five innings, giving up seven hits and five runs (four earned) with one walk and three strikeouts.
“The goal was 90 [pitches],” Feldman said. “It would have been nice to get out of that fifth a little bit quicker and get out there for a sixth. Really overall, the result weren’t there in that fifth inning but I made some good pitches. I think overall on the day, a couple of bad pitches. For the most part I was executing my pitches pretty well. The results aren’t always going to be there. If I can throw the ball like the results will be better.”
Player of the game: RHP Matt Albers. He breezed through the eighth inning, retiring all three batters he faced, with one strikeout.
What went wrong: The Astros made a pair of errors in the fifth. LF Robbie Grossman overthrew third base, which led to a run, and RF L.J. Hoes allowed a ball to roll under his glove for a two-base error. … The Astros went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Notable: C Jason Castro was scratched from the starting lineup because of flu-like symptoms.
Quotable: “I’m trying to stay away from both of them. I told Dave I don’t need one of them touching the lineup card.”— Astros manager Bo Porter on coaches Pat Listach and Dave Trembley, both of whom are dealing with flu-like symptoms.
Up next: LHP Brett Oberholtzer, who will start the third game of the regular season, gets the call when the Astros play their third consecutive home game at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday against the Cardinals at Osceola County Stadium.
Injuries: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery), RHP Alex White (Tommy John recovery)
Links of the day:
Tweets of the day:
Should have known Romo being on Duke's side wouldn't have a negative effect until it was postseason time..—
Kent Emanuel (@KentEmanuel) March 21, 2014
Thanks to everyone for the Birthday wishes! #1/4century—
Bobby Doran (@B_Doran43) March 21, 2014
Picture of the day:
What happened: RHP Max Scherzer and five Tigers relievers combined to beat the Astros, 3-0, on a three-hit shutout in Kissimmee (boxscore).
What we learned: RHP Lucas Harrell‘s sinker is coming along nicely. As we all know, Harrell’s sinker, which betrayed him so often last year, is the key to his success. He threw three innings and recorded six ground-ball outs.
“That was a huge thing for me today,” Harrell said. “I didn’t have one ball hit into the air. The defense behind me played great. [Third baseman Matt] Dominguez made a couple of nice plays, and [shortstop Carlos] Correa made a nice play and almost got up and threw a guy out in the first inning, so it was really nice to see those guys laying it out and getting dirty for the ball.”
What we learned II: Overall, manager Bo Porter is happy with the kind of baseball the Astros are playing at this point in the spring. Sure, they were held to three hits Wednesday, but he lauded the at-bats and deep counts.
“I think that these guys are really honing into the strike zone and understanding who they are,” he said. “I think that the pitches in which we are attacking are the right pitches. Sometimes you’re going to have days in which you attack the right pitch and you don’t square the ball up or you don’t get a hit. I feel like I all facets of the game, we’re playing good baseball.”
What else: 2B Jose Altuve had the only hit against Scherzer, and LF J.D. Martinez added a single later in the game. LF Robbie Grossman had the only other hit, a double. … RHPs Chad Qualls and Jose Ciserno each threw a scoreless inning, and RHP Mike Foltynewicz threw two scoreless innings while facing seven batters. … RHP Anthony Bass gave up two runs (one earned) and three hits in two innings.
What went wrong: 2B Marwin Gonzalez made an error, and RF George Springer had an error when he let a ball get past him in the outfield. … The Astros didn’t muster much offensively. It started with the Tigers’ Scherzer, who went three strong innings and allowed only an Altuve single.
“It all starts on the mound, and obviously he’s the reigning Cy Young Award winner,” Porter said. “He has great stuff, but I felt like our pitchers did a tremendous job today.
What they said: “His ability to strike people out, it’s unbelievable. You saw it last year on display. He’s got an electric fastball and a great slider. Maybe I could just take it all.” –Astros RHP Lucas Harrell on facing Scherzer. The two played with and against each other growing up in Missouri.
What’s next: RHP Brad Peacock makes his second appearance of the spring when the Astros face the Mets at 12:05 p.m. CT Thursday at Osceola County Stadium. Peacock, who’s competing for a spot in the rotation, was rocked for five runs and four hits in one inning of work Friday at Detroit and struggled with fastball command.
Who’s injured: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery), OF Adron Chambers (hamstring strain), RHP Jorge De Leon (quad strain), LHP Raul Valdes (left knee surgery recovery).
Links of the day:
Pipeline perspective: Springer too good not to star
Tweets of the day:
The day in photos:
With almost all of the position players have reported to camp Wednesday, the Astros will hit the field Thursday for the first full-squad workout of the spring. There was no shortage of news Wednesday, with the arrival of Roger Clemens, a calf injury to Jesse Crain and news Japhet Amador wasn’t reporting.
Many position players have been here for days, hitting in the cages and on the field in groups later in the day. They’ll be hard at it Thursday doing defensive drills and conditioning working along with the pitchers and catchers, who have four days of camp under their belts.
“When you have this many guys show up early, it almost feels like you’ve had a full workout just because we had so many guys that are here,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “I just got finished commending the position players. It’s not every day you have pretty much your entire contingent of position players show up two, three, four days early and have the type of workouts and size of workouts they’ve been able to have.
“I think after we’ve had so many guys here already, it almost feels like we’ve had the whole team here.”
One player who had yet to report to camp as of 1 p.m. ET Wednesday was first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who was expected to be on the field Thursday.
“I think he will be here,” Porter said. “One of the guys told me they went to call him and the phone went to voice mail, so they think he’s on his way here on a flight. … I commend those guys who came in early, but at the same time it is voluntary and you don’t have to be here until Thursday.”
Porter will have different groups of position players lead the daily “break point” drills, when the players are given an in-game scenario to execute at the end of workouts. And like last year, there will be the daily shaking of hands on the field reminiscent of what takes place when the Astros win.
“We’re looking forward to it as a staff, and I’m pretty sure the players will be excited about it,” he said
Porter said he plans to address the full squad Thursday like he did five days earlier when pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time. Owner Jim Crane is not expected to be in camp Thursday to talk to the team.
“I’ve said this to the catchers and pitchers and the position players will hear the same message tomorrow,” Porter said. “The training wheels are off. It’s either you can ride a bike without training wheels or you’ll find down and we’ll pick you up and get you on your way.”
Prior to Astros pitchers and catchers taking the field for the first time Sunday morning on the back fields at Osceola County Stadium, manager Bo Porter met with a group of veteran pitchers he identified as being the leaders of the staff.
Porter sat down with Lucas Harrell, Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Jesse Crain, Jerome Williams and Peter Moylan and told them he wants them to set a good example for the youngsters. They’ll also be involved in some of the morning meetings.
“You look at that group, and it’s guys that had success at the Major League level, they’re veteran guys,” Porter said. “I explained to them, ‘We’re not looking for one leader. We’re looking for a group of leaders.’ This is an unusual situation. A lot of those guys have come here from other organizations. Chad and Albers are a little bit different because they were here at one time and came back. Lucas has been here.
“I wanted to stress to them that this organization and where we’re at right now, it’s not like we have the [Craig] Biggios, the [Jeff] Bagwells, the guys that have been here for many years and you can say, ‘Hey, follow these guys. They know the Astros way.’ We are in the process of creating the Astros way, and our younger guys, I want to make sure they’re following the right people.
“I stressed that to our veteran guys. When you are a young players – and we’ve all been there before – you look around the clubhouse and say, ‘Wow, this guy’s been here 10 years. I wonder how he’s been able to accomplish that?’ Because you’re young, you’re impressionable and you’re going to watch that guy and watch that every move. I told those guys, ‘You will do more by whatever it is you do than you do than by whatever it is that you say.’ So make sure that your actions match what it is you’re saying each and every day.”
While the pitchers did their morning stretch work, Porter emphasized how happy he was that camp was finally underway following an offseason full of roster moves.
“I probably looked at the roster 1,000 times,” he said. “That’s what you do each and every day. You go to the ballpark and sit up at night and you think about the players. It’s good to have the group of talented guys we have here, but more importantly it’s good to be out here and getting started with the 2014 season.”
Astros pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training on Saturday. Here are some notes, as well as some photos:
White progressing steadily
Right-hander Alex White continues to progress steadily from the Tommy John surgery he underwent nearly a year ago. White threw batting practice Friday, tossing 23 pitches, including some changeups to a few hitters.
“We’re coming along pretty good,” he said. “My off-speed stuff is really good, and I’m waiting on the fastball to come along. I think it will come. We’re really just at 10 months right now. A couple of more months we should be there.”
Off-season work beneficial to Castro
Considering he had more time to work out this off-season, All-Star catcher Jason Castro is coming to camp with his surgically repaired right knee feeling stronger than it was even a year ago.
“I put in a lot of work this off-season and I feel like I put myself in a good spot coming back, even better than I was last year,” he said.
That’s a tremendous sign for Castro, who a year ago at this time said his knee was feeling 100 percent.
“I was able to work out for a longer period this off-season than I ever had,” said Castro, who earned a degree from Stanford in the off-season. “I was back in school pretty much right after the season ended, and I was recovering and doing some rehab stuff. I started my off-season.”
Appel recovering from appendectomy
Astros pitcher Mark Appel is still a little sore, but otherwise on the road to recovery after having to undergo an appendectomy Jan. 30 in Houston.
Appel, who lived with his parents in Houston in the off-season, woke up in the middle of the night and thought he had indigestion. The pain lingered, and he soon rustled his father in his sleep to tell him to take him to the hospital.
“Usually if I have food poisoning, I’ll just grab some Tums or something like that,” he said. “I did that after the first time I threw up, and I woke up again maybe an hour later and the same thing and the pain’s worse. I knew something was up, and I just said, ‘Hey dad, I think we need to go to the emergency room to be sure.’ Sure enough, I had appendicitis. It was pretty crazy.”
Wallace focusing on making roster
The fact that Brett Wallace is in camp this year as a non-roster invitee after being designed for assignment last week doesn’t change his mindset: he’s coming to camp to try to win the starting job at first base.
“It’s something I’ve never been through,” he said. “I had some friends and people you play with go through it. It’s definitely a new process but something that, honestly, I can’t control. In the same aspect, I’m coming in camp to win a job. I’m going to keep my head down and keep working and then whatever is happening with all that, I just try to put it to the side and keep preparing.”
Here are some photos:
Here are some photos from FanFest. I’m nobody’s photographer, but it’s better than nothing…
Galveston, oh, Galveston. Country music super star Glen Campbell sang a hit song about the island city years ago, and the city and beach looked spectacular Wednesday when the Astros Caravan come to town. Here are a few photos from the stops:
Enjoy some photos from pregame Wednesday in Oakland:
Here are some photos from Friday’s pregame in Anaheim: